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1. SELF-ESTEEM

Self-esteem

Self-esteem comes not from who you are,
______it comes out of something you do.

This may sound weird, as the experience of self-esteem feels like it is about who you think you are as a person. If you suffer from negative self-esteem, your experience may resemble what was described first on the previous page:

  • In reality you know that you can manage,
    but despite this you don’t believe in yourself.

  • You often feel insecure with other people.

  • You have often thoughts about others looking down on you.

This is something that is the result of conditioning during a long period of time, sometimes during the whole life. Many have become the target of the "brainwash" implied by having a criticizing or depreciating parent. Others have become targets of belittling, criticism or even bullying in school. A positive self-esteem that has been built up by a harmonious upbringing can be demolished completely by workplace bullying or bullying from a partner.

This negative conditioning has over time influenced your thought processes in such a way that it creates the experience of the negative self-esteem. But even if the emotion is an inner state, it is always the result of something you do. Thoughts, even when they are completely subconscious, are something you do.

And what you do can be changed.

The first step in all inner change is to become aware: what is it I do / think, that makes me feel like this? That is: not why. To understand why you act in a negative way can give you insights, but unfortunately, insights do not by themselves lead to change. This step also means transforming self-criticism into self-observation. To learn how to be aware of what one does without judging it, just observing.

The second step is to find better ways to act, and one's thinking is a part of this.

The third step is to automate the new ways of acting and thinking, creating new automatic habits. A kind of positive "brainwash", a "re-programming" of the brain.

Psychosynthesis Forum offers tools for re-programming

Via coaching, psychotherapy and/or work on your own with the help of our online tools you can get support in going through this inner three step process. Which tools that would be helpful depends on your individual needs and on your personality, situation, background history, etc, so work with a client always starts with a thorough assessment.

But many methods recur frequently when we work with clients on this level:

  • Work with Subpersonalities, especially with the part the Inner Child.

  • Psychosynthesis visualizations, for example The Gift, The House, The Cocoon, The Garden.

  • Work with thought processes, reprogramming.

  • Coaching at the level Advisor.

  • Work with the levels above that influence self-esteem: self-awareness, self-assurance, self-beliefs, self-image.

 

One basic tool: The Old and the New Record.

On this page one of the tools we use on the level Self-esteem will be described more extensively, as this is a tool we use with almost everyone wanting to work with their negative self-esteem, early on in the work.

We call the tool The Old and the New Record. "The Old Record" stands for the "inner self-talk" we often do, and that we may be aware of, but which has been going on for such a long time that it has become completely sub-conscious.

This self-talk is triggered by certain situations or by certain persons, and is one of the one does that contributes to the negative self-esteem.

The images and text presented here below come from our treatment program for stutterers, where poor self-esteem often is a big problem, but the basic principles are used in the same way in our work with other types of problems.

Gamla Skivan "The Old Record" is what you think of yourself, and that often comes in the form of statements you say to yourself, an "inner self-talk". These statements have become completely automatic through many years of "brainwash" you have exposed yourself to, or that others have exposed you to. They now come complete and final, without any "reality checking" whatsoever, into your mind, together with the emotions and the negative self-image that are connected to these thought patterns.

These negative thought patterns are like an "Old Record" that starts playing, automatically.

Typical thoughts on The Old Record:

No … here we go again - I have no control…

Now he/she/they see me as a nuisance…

I have to get my act together - quickly! …

I will never be able to fix this…

I ought to be able to pull myself together…

I am not respected, because I’m not worth it…

I don’t have anything of interest to say, anyhow…

I am really worthless …

a)Your own Old Record

Gamla Skivan The first step in learning to handle this conditioned reflex is to become conscious of it. Reflect on typical situations where your Old Record starts playing. Go back to memories of situations that may be painful to recall, memories of getting completely stuck in a really obvious speech block. Even if your Old Record is not “heard” as a sound track, listen inwardly at what you actually are saying to yourself or about yourself, with or without words, when you are standing there struggling with your speech.
Make written notes of your own version of "The Old Record".

You may feel sad or even angry at yourself when you recall memories like this. But, be aware that these reactions are also part of "The Old Record". Just try to make yourself aware of what actually happens in your mind in distressing situations about your speech, without evaluating, without judging yourself. As I have said before, the first step in creating inner change is becoming aware of what is happening in your mind, what you are doing. Not why

Reflect on how much "The Old Record" influences how you regard yourself. How you criticize yourself, how you value yourself.
Imagine that you actually make a real recording of the content of your Old Record on
a Walkman or an IPod, which someone has to wear, anybody. And that "The Old Record" has the property of starting automatically: as soon as this person starts to talk, he/she will hear it in the back of the head. Imagine how this person, normally having a sound self-confidence, will feel after a while, after having heard "Your Old Record" inside his/her head, again and again… This is what you are doing to yourself.
For how long has this “brainwash” been going on?

You can unfortunately not erase "The Old Record" (even if you probably now wish that
it was possible), but you can do something. Just becoming aware of its existence makes its power over you decrease. Reflecting on the origin of the different statements, reflecting on persons in you early life that may have repeatedly said negative, scornful or degrading things to you or about you. Reflecting on the fact that then you may not have had the power or the courage to stand up for yourself, but now you certainly would. Reflecting on that the values "The Old Record" is an expression of are not even your own, but others’, a long time ago.

You can also change how you hear "The Old Record". Imagine hearing it from a distance, just faintly. If you are right-handed, your past memories are represented by images (visual/audial/kinesthetic) to the left in your inner space.
Move "The Old Record" so that you hear it from far away down to the left, and hear it as if it is an old scratchy long-playing record, with a small whining little voice … which does not have any power over you…
(If you are left-handed, switch left to right in this description.)

Above all, try not to not hearing "The Old Record", or trying to repress it.
What you fight grows. What you resist stays. (Axioms in therapeutic work.)
Instead, do not give "The Old Record" power. Hear it, but just let it be. You will in a moment learn how you after a while will be able to get it to disappear, although after a certain amount of work and perseverance.


b) A new record

Nya Skivan

But, what you above all can do, is to make a new recording.
In order for it to be work efficiently, not only in the conscious part of your mind, but also in the subconscious, it has to be based on your Old Record.

Read through your notes on your Old record. Reflect on each statement, and ask yourself the maybe paradoxical question

If there was a positive intention for me in this statement,
what would that be?

Even if what is on The Old Record sounds negative, degrading, self-critical, and maybe makes you feel bad and grinds down your self-confidence,
there is a positive intention behind each statement.

c) The positive intention

Using the example of an Old Record I gave above, this could lead to the following:

THE OLD RECORD

Positive intention for me

No … here we go again - I have no control…

It is important to have control of what I am doing.

Now he/she/they see me as a nuisance…

I want to give others a good impression.

I have to get my act together - quickly! …

I want to communicate
what’s on my mind.

I will never be able to fix this…

I want to be able to change my behavior.

I ought to be able to pull myself together…

I want to be able to learn and to grow.

I am not respected, because I’m not worth it…

I want to feel respected.

I don’t have anything of interest to say, anyhow…

I want to contribute.

I am really worthless …

I want to feel that I have worth.

d) The New Record

Now, from these positive intentions, you can ”manufacture” The New Record:

The New Record

(Click on the figure to get it in pdf format, for print-out.)

Print the table above, The New Record, preferably on a color printer. Print a couple
of pages, and put them up at home where they catch your eye all the time.
Put one on your bedside table.

Bring one with you during the day. If you want, you can download the audial version into your mp3 player or IPod, in order to listen to it now and then during the day.

Listen to The New Record :

(Right-click on the link to download the mp3 file.)

e) Practice the following:

Affirm The New Record, preferably with a loud and clear voice, but if not possible where you are at the moment, inside your head, but still loudly, clearly and convincing.
(To affirm= to say something to oneself, as if one really believed it.)

Do this frequently during the day. Do it at least once just after you have woken up
in the morning, and once just before falling asleep at night. But preferably, do it also
a number of times during the day.

f) Affirmation works

Affirmation works. Reflecting, you should realize that The Old Record is an affirmation, stuff you have told yourself frequently during most of your life. How perfectly that one has worked…

Why does affirmation work? The explanation lies in the difference between our conscious mind and our subconscious:

Our conscious mind is analytical and has discrimination abilities. It is active when we are awake, but is passive when we are asleep.

Our subconscious mind never sleeps, it is always more or less active. The subconscious mind also lacks the ability of discrimination. This is the reason behind that we are not able to distinguish dreams from reality, when we are asleep. If I dream that I am chased by a crazy murderer, I become genuinely terrified. If I dream that I can fly, I become genuinely happy.

The affirmation sinks down into our subconscious mind, even if our conscious mind rejects it. The subconscious cannot analyze the realism of the statement. As the sole criterion of whether a statement is true or not, the subconscious mind uses the number of times the statement has been heard. The more the subconscious mind has heard it, the truer it sounds…

So, affirmation is a form of brainwash. But, instead of continue brainwashing yourself with your Old Record, you can now do it with your New Record. As you on a strictly logical level probably realize that The Old Record is completely false, and that The
New Record is completely true for you, your choice should be an easy one…

Be warned: your emotions are mainly a product of your subconscious mind, so do not be surprised if The New Record activates a lot of resistance and strong opposing emotions. These are all part of The Old Record. The assignment is not to believe
The New Record emotionally at first, the assignment is to affirm it, saying it loud
as if you believed it.

There is a saying that bad habits, as well as good habits, are established after 21 days, if repeated frequently each day. This seems to be the case also for becoming used to affirm new beliefs. You will notice that even if you do not emotionally believe The New Record, it will feel more and more convincing for each week of your disciplined practice to affirm The New record, as if you believed it completely.

Gamla Skivan

The Old Record will stay in there, but with this exercise it will become fainter and fainter, and it will finally disappear completely.

 

Work with self-esteem is included in many of our online tools

We often work with self-esteem both in coaching and in psychotherapy, and there is an either expressed or a more implicit focus in many of our e-courses.

Examples (in alphabetical order):

  • Emotional blocking is sometimes a problem for persons suffering from poor self-esteem. Difficult situations can make a person emotionally blocked, which in turn amplifies the poor self-esteem. Becoming blocked can lead to not having access to things that could help, for example The New Record.

  • Dyslexia often leads to others regarding persons suffering from this as "stupid" during the time they attended school, as teachers can lack sufficient knowledge about dyslexia. This often leads to poor self-esteem among dyslectics. To realize that dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence, and in addition to this find a tool for improving one's spelling capability, strengthens one's self-esteem.

  • Phobia is often "illogical", and the attitude from others can be expressed as "you just have to pull yourself together", which is not possible for a person suffering from a phobic reflex. In addition to the fact that the phobia leads to anxiety and that it limits the person's life, it often has poor self-esteem as a secondary effect.

  • Criticism is something a person with poor self-esteem has difficulties in handling well. To learn how to become better in responding to criticism in a calm and constructive way, strengthens self-esteem as well.

  • Chronic moods, like depression, shame, self-criticism and the like are sometimes consequences of poor self-esteem. To become aware of what one subconsciously does to maintain negative emotional vicious circles, and to learn how to just release negative emotions not really caused by anything real, strengthens the self-esteem.

  • Pessimism is often a consequence of poor self-esteem - one believes that the poor self-esteem is a personal trait that will always be there. Working with one's subconscious mental frames can brake this vicious circle.

  • Stuttering almost always leads to poor self-esteem, which in turn amplifies the problem of speech blocking. To learn how to speak more and more fluently, in more and more situations, strengthens self-esteem very much.

  • Obesity often leads to poor self-esteem. To learn how to start to eat in a way that without effort makes one slowly but surely approach one's ideal weight and then stay there, strengthens self-esteem tremendously.

 

The level SELF-ESTEEM is adequately finished when

 


Self-esteem
  • You like yourself, and you have excellent self-esteem.

  • You are optimistic even when you feel uncertain,
    knowing that ”I will fix this”.


  • You feel at ease with other people.

  • You respect yourself and you communicate
    in a clear way what you want.

 
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